Monday 20 June 2011

The Ugly, The Bad and The E14: Movie Dads

Well, for UK-based E14ies, this weekend has seen Father's Day come and go yesterday, and the subject of fathers is very much a theme today. For those of you not from the, what a June 19th it was eh? I, for one, aside from contacting my dad, enjoyed directing abuse at the London - Brighton bike ride, where a large number of arrogant cycling tossers flout traffic laws and ruin Brighton's view of cyclists, giving a bad name to the small minority who aren't complete fuckmooks. Anyway, today E14 looks at the best (and the very worst) of fathers in the movies.

The Ugly - Darth Vader
Movie(s): The Star Wars Saga

The artist formerly known as Anakin Skywalker has to rate as one of the worst fathers in cinema history. Personally, I think the life history of Jake Lloyd/Hayden Christensen/Sebastian Shaw Hayden Christensen's character is one of the most poignant in the genre, and yet he presents one of the worst parental role models in the history of film. If anything, it feels to me like his story actually seems more strikingly horrendous if you tell it backwards from Return of the Jedi all the way to Revenge of the Sith, where he actually becomes a father.

So, in Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader convinces Luke Skywalker to turn himself in to the Emperor who proceeds to send thousands and thousands of volts of electricity through the body of the young Jedi Knight. As if that wasn't enough, Vader has already fought Luke a ton by this point, knackering him out and making it so that the electricity probably feels that much worse just simply because he'd quite like a lie down at some point.

In The Empire Strikes Back, he chases his daughter (and her new boyfriend) halfway across the galaxy, at the same time showing his slightly younger child (only a couple of minutes, but it all counts) that the way to deal with the only black character in the series is to take his property from him and make it seem like that was what he agreed to in the first place. He then goes on to take on Luke in a lightsaber duel, and proceeds to chop his fucking hand off! What's probably the worst thing about it is that Vader knows full well that as Luke is not part of a registered company, he doubtless has no formal health insurance to speak of, and as a result probably is in some considerable financial debt to the Rebel Alliance. Say what you like about the Galactic Empire, but I'll bet their waiting lists for medical institutions were practically non-existent.

A New Hope sees Vader in some of his more interesting phase as a parent. After eighteen years of not paying child support of any kind, he proceeds to spend the movie having his daughter probed and tortured by that thing that looks a bit like a disco ball with a bad attitude and a lax attitude to personal space, and chopping down his son's only friend in the form of a kindly old British man. Serves him bloody right that he gets his space station blown up, the lack of child support payments considering that technically Darth Vader's role falls under the umbrella of a top-end government job financially suggests that he had it coming.

So in Revenge of the Sith, Anakin shows what kind of upbringing they're in for by...going mental and trying to choke the twins' mother to death while the twins are still in the womb. Good thing Obi-Wan had the high ground...

The Bad: Dr. Evil
Movie: The Austin Powers trilogy

"What?!" I hear some of you cry, "Dr. Evil is an amazing father! Just look at his relationship with Mini-Me! They have cuddles all the time, they share food and have similar clothing and cats, and they also indulge in music videos in every film they're together in!" To that, I say "Ha!" with an air of smugness as I remind those of you who fell into that trap that Mini-Me is NOT Dr Evil's son. He's his clone. In terms of familial relationship, it's like giving a jizzrag a bit of a hug before you flush it (or chuck it in the washing machine depending on your fancy). There's little real difference.

Dr. Evil's son, as many of you will recall, is Scott, played by the ever-awesome Seth Green of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Idle Hands fame. The relationship between these two is tense to say the least through the first two movies. In many cases, Scott can't even finish his sentence before Dr. Evil interrupts him. I spoke to E14's resident psychological expert, Dr. Bartender, and he had this to say on the subject of Dr. Evil's relationship with Scott:

It's clear from watching these documentaries that Dr. Evil is doing serious long-term damage to Scott by interrupting his sentences all the time. Scott is at the age in the films where his language skills are beginning to develop, and he will be looking for any excuse to practise his sentences in order to establish things like phonemes and....philonemes. Ok, you've got your quote, can I have that fiver for lunch now?

See what I mean? Irreperable damage is being done to his ego, for all the reasons Dr B has mentioned there. Ultimately, it's not surprising that Scott has to find himself becoming more like his father in order to get his attention, as Dr. Evil clearly will not deal with anyone who doesn't look even a little bit like him. Just look at Austin Powers, and how much he talks to him. Their likeness is uncanny!

The E14: Bryan Mills
Movie(s): Taken

Hey, E14ies. Let me ask you a question. Have you ever had...a birthday? I thought so. Now think back to the best birthday you can remember. Did you get a party? You did? Ok, how about a pony?...Really? Ok, well let's try this one on for size. Did your dad come to Europe to save you from life as an underground sex worker? If the answer to the last question is "No", then I have two pieces of bad news for you: all your birthdays have sucked and your so-called "Father" doesn't love you as much as you like to think.

Liam Neeson's most raw and gritty role since The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe fails to disappoint on any level, with the Irish star playing a character who could arguably have his job description referred to as "Ex-Rambo". A one-man wrecking machine, Mills is portrayed initially as a bit of a wet ponce, being talked to like a second-class citizen by his bitch of an ex-wife and her moneybags new husband, while all the while trying to re-build bridges with his estranged daughter. It all goes tits-up, however, when Mills trusts a young woman's friend to organise a holiday, and his daughter is stolen.

Cue Liam Neeson trekking through France, leaving dead bodies and broken bones in his wake as he goes after those responsible for taking his daughter in order to save her from a horrendous fate (of which arguably being sold into the sex trade against your will falls into the category). Particular highlights include him smashing in the faces of a number of Eastern European men who try to give him a bit of sass, and the bit with Holly Valance, because she's lovely.

I mean, when you think about it, who would you rather have coming after you in a time of crisis? A Dark Lord of the Sith who can't go a trimestre without choking someone in the birthing plan, a mad scientist who gets all cuddly with a box of Kleenex Man-size, or a guy who's played by Liam Neeson, whose filmography includes a Jedi AND fucking Ra's al Ghul? That's what I thought.

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